HIV is a virus that attacks cells of the immune system, which is our body’s natural defence against illness. The virus destroys CD4 cells (T-helper cell) a type of white blood cell. Over time, as HIV kills more CD4 cells, the body is likely to get various types of diseases, infections and cancers.
AIDS is the most advanced stage of HIV. HIV kills CD4 cells. Healthy adults generally have a CD4 count of 500 to 1500 per cubic millimeter. A person with HIV whose CD4 count falls below 200 per cubic millimeter will be diagnosed with AIDS.
Untreated, HIV can progress to AIDS within a decade. There’s no cure for AIDS, and without treatment, life expectancy after diagnosis is about 3 years. This may be shorter if the person develops a severe opportunistic illness. However, treatment with antiretroviral drugs can prevent AIDS from developing.
If AIDS does develop, it means that the immune system is severely compromised. It’s weakened to the point where it can no longer fight off most diseases and infections. That makes the person vulnerable to a wide range of illnesses, including:
• Oral thrush
• cytomegalovirus (CMV)
• Cryptococcal Meningitis
• Cancers kaposi’s Sarcoma and Lymphoma
virus is transmitted in body through
• vaginal and rectal fluids
• breast milk
Some of the ways HIV is spread from person to person include:
• through vaginal or anal sex — the most common route of transmission, especially among men who have sex with men
• by sharing needles, syringes.
• by sharing tattoo equipment without sterilizing
• during delivery from a woman to her baby
• during breastfeeding
• through “pr e-mastication,” or chewing a baby’s food before feeding it to them
• through exposure to the blood of someone living with HIV, such as through a needle stick
• through a blood transfusion or organ and tissue transplant.
What tests are used to diagnose HIV?
Antibody/antigen tests Antibody/antigen tests are the most commonly used tests. They can show positive results typically within 18 -45 days after initially contracts HIV.
Antibody tests These tests check the blood solely for antibodies. Between 23 and 90 days after transmission, most people will develop detectable HIV antibodies, which can be found in the blood or saliva.
Other antibody tests can be done at home:
• OraQuick HIV Test. An oral swab provides results in as little as 20 minutes.
• Home Access HIV-1 Test System. After the person pricks their finger, they send a blood sample to a licensed laboratory. They can remain anonymous and call for results the next business day.
If someone suspects they’ve been exposed to HIV but tested negative in a home test, they should repeat the test in three months. If they have a positive result, they should follow up with their healthcare provider to confirm.
Nucleic acid test (NAT) This test is for people who have early symptoms of HIV or have a known risk factor. It takes from 5 to 21 days for HIV to be detectable in the blood. This test is usually accompanied or confirmed by an antibody test.
What’s the HIV window period?
As soon as someone contracts HIV, it starts to reproduce in their body. The person’s immune system reacts to the antigens (parts of the virus) by producing antibodies (cells that fight the virus).
The time between exposure to HIV and when it becomes detectable in the blood is called the HIV window period. Most people develop detectable HIV antibodies within 23 to 90 days after infection.
If a person takes an HIV test during the window period, it’s likely they’ll receive a negative result. However, they can still transmit the virus to others during this time. If someone thinks they may have been exposed to HIV but tested negative during this time, they should repeat the test in a few months to confirm (the timing depends on the test used). And during that time, they need to use condoms to prevent possibly spreading HIV.
Early symptoms of HIV
Early symptoms of HIV can include:
• swollen lymph nodes
• general aches and pains
• skin rash
• sore throat
• upset stomach
These nonspecific symptoms may include:
• headaches and other aches and pains
• swollen lymph nodes
• recurrent fevers
• night sweats
• weight loss
• skin rashes
• recurrent oral or vaginal yeast infections
Symptoms of AIDS can include:
• recurrent fever
• chronic swollen lymph glands, especially of the armpits, neck, and groin
• chronic fatigue
• night sweats
• dark splotches under the skin or inside the mouth, nose, or eyelids
• sores, spots, or lesions of the mouth and tongue, genitals, or anus
• bumps, lesions, or rashes of the skin
• recurrent or chronic diarrhea
• rapid weight loss
• neurologic problems such as trouble concentrating, memory loss, and confusion
• anxiety and depression
• Use condoms.
• Limit their sexual partners.
• Avoid sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia.
• Consider PEP. PEP can reduce the risk of contracting HIV. It consists of three antiretroviral medications given for 28 days. PEP should be started as soon as possible after exposure, but before 36 to 72 hours have passed.
• Consider PrEP. A person at a high risk of HIV should talk to their healthcare provider about pre –exposure prophylaxis. If taken Focus on their emotional health. They could consider seeing a licensed therapist who is experienced in treating people with HIV.
AYURVEDIC TREATMENT FOR HIV/ AIDS(Ayurvedic HIV Treatment)
The patient should be given nourishing food which is easily digestible.
He should be encouraged to do Yog/Pranayam/easy exercise which does not strain his fragile health.
He should be kept engaged in fruitful activities
Tonics and rejuvenators (Rasayanas) is given to boost immunity levels and to strengthen the system and stimulate appetite.
After gaining some strength, shodhana (elimination) techniques are used to expel toxins from the body through enemas, purgation and emesis. The medications administered at this stage are not hard or drastic, but soft, ghee-based so that the patient withstands them with ease.
Secondly the blood is purified with appropriate medications. Liver corrective measures also play an important role.
A strengthening diet along with medicated ghee preparations and soups is recommended. But spicy, oily and acidic foods are to be avoided. A little Medicated alcohol (asava) is recommended as anupana (carrier) to aid the digestive process, and also remove blockages in the flow of Rasadi dhatus, i.e. srothorodha.
Patient is advised to do regular Yoga. If the patient is incapable of doing yoga or running due to weakness, then steaming (swedanam) is also recommended. reason behind this is ‘Heated blood is said to weaken, and even destroy, the virus in some cases’.
Experience has shown that certain herbo-mineral compounds prepared as per the formulae prescribed by sages like Agasthya, Charaka, Sarangadhara and others for the treatment of Kshaya have brought about significant results in improving the condition of AIDS patients. The Rasayana and Vajikara effects of the these medicines are good for the patients.
Some of the ayurvedic medicines achieving good improvement in the quality of life of patients include ‘Chyavanprash’, ‘Raktavardhak’ for Immunity building and ‘Sookshma Triphla tabs’ to keep away the the infection.
CHYAVANPRASH FOR AIDS:
An example of an Ayurvedic remedy which may be of use in the treatment of persons diagnosed with AIDS is ‘Chyavanprash’. ‘Chyavanprash’ is most useful and most popular rejuvenator tonic(Rasayana) of Ayurveda.
This is an Ayurvedic herbal formula which increases ojas, and restores the digestive, eliminative, respiratory and sexual systems. It is frequently employed in wasting conditions where it has been clinically shown to improve health and assist with weight gain. The main ingredient in Chyavanprash is ‘Amalaki’- the Indian gooseberry (Emblica officinalis), which has the highest yield of natural source vitamin C, with 3000 mg per fruit. It is also a rich source of naturally occurring anti-oxidants including bioflavonoids, vitamin B-complex and carotenes (vitamin A). Studies suggest that this berry possesses antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. It assists digestion, lowers high blood pressure and lowers blood cholesterol. Clinical research has shown that it accelerates repair of muscle and skin and enhances natural anti-inflammatory substances. Chayvanprash also contains about 35 others herbs which amplify and augment the effects of its main ingredient; such a powerful formulation may indeed be helpful in the treatment of persons who have been diagnosed with AIDS. Readers can also use it as general rejuvenating Ayurvedic tonic irrespective of their constitution.
Other useful drugs include – Shatavari -used as ‘Shatavari kalpa’,Guduchi(Tinospora cordifolia), Kalmegh(Andrographis paniculata) etc.